Friday, March 30, 2007

Why Is There a Stigma Against a Solo Woman Travelers?

OK, the cat's outta the bag. My little trip kicking off Memorial Day weekend I wrote about in this post: Quirky-Kitsch Girl's View: S2S 2007 is no longer a secret (yup, I have an issue with secrets). You see, I'm just soooo excited about it and just had to share it with my family and the office. It's San Francisco to Seattle via Portland, OR. I've been plotting my route, collecting maps, vacation guides and finding off-beat hideaways.

I'm trying to do it as cheaply as possible, too. Trying to keep the whole thing under $1,000, including air, car, hotel, meals and sightseeing. Yes, being a road warrior has its advantages: getting to stay in swanky hotels and collect the hotel points and AMEX points to redeem for pleasure.

(Speaking of reward points, I just learned about Best Buy's Reward Zone, a pretty sweet rewards program. Since we need to buy electronics for work as giveaways and expense them via our credit cards, it only make sense to register and enjoy the perks...I digress...)

Because if I were traveling on my own and paying the tab, I'd either be in a hostel or Motel 6 where they'll leave the light on for ya...

While I'm excited about the trip, I'm still annoyed with the response some women have given me when I tell them I'm going on a solo trip. Even today I got another, "Awe. That's so sad."

What is so sad about a solo woman traveler? Yes, I admit I feel alone sometimes and last weekend I was in my "what's wrong with me"..."I'll never find anyone" mode. (Weddings tend to do that). But I usually don't feel lonely.

It also baffles me when I tell people about the Rotary program which sent me to Japan for a month. I encourage young women to locate a Rotary District and join a Group Study Exchange program but I get, "Oh, I couldn't be away from my boyfriend for that long." Or, "My husband wouldn't want me to be away that long." IT'S A MONTH. NOT A DECADE.

I enjoy doing things by myself because I can enjoy it at my own pace. Traveling solo ensures I see and do the things I WANT to see and do.

It's also a bit empowering and builds confidence. The first time I had to eat a meal in a restaurant by myself was horrible. "Just one?" the hostess asked.

Over time, I got over it because I realized I could either have room service in my hotel room and miss out on what's happening or go enjoy life.

I've spent a good part of my life waiting for others to make a decision and I've missed out. Traveling solo puts me in control.

During the Miami Herald Travel Show last April, I met author Lea Lane who penned Solo Traveler: Tales and Tips for Great Trips. I picked up a signed copy (which sits next to my signed copy of Stephen King's "Cell"). I admit to not having read it but will do so prior to my trip.

So I ask, is it sad for a woman to travel solo? Or am I just a social deviant?